Icon of the Harrowing of Hades

Great and Holy Pascha

In the Orthodox Church the feast of Easter is officially called Pascha, the word which means the Passover. It is the new Passover of the new and everlasting covenant foretold by the prophets of old. It is the eternal Passover from death to life and from earth to heaven. It is the Day of the Lord proclaimed by God's holy prophets, "the day which the Lord has made" for his judgment over all creation, the day of His final and everlasting victory. It is the Day of the Kingdom of God, tile day "which has no night" for "its light is the Lamb" (Rev 21:22-25).

The celebration of Easter in the Orthodox Church, therefore, is once again not merely an historical reenactment of the event of Christ's Resurrection as narrated in the gospels. It is not a dramatic representation of the first Easter morning. There is no "sunrise service" since the Easter Matins and the Divine Liturgy are celebrated together in the first dark hours of the first day of the week in order to give men the experience of the "new creation" of the world, and to allow them to enter mystically into the New Jerusalem which shines eternally with the glorious light of Christ, overcoming the perpetual night of evil and destroying the darkness of this mortal and sinful world:

Shine! Shine! O New Jerusalem! The glory of the Lord has shone upon you! Exult and be glad O Zion! Be radiant O Pure Theotokos, in the Resurrection of your Son!

This is one of the main Easter hymns in the Orthodox Church. It is inspired by Isaiah's prophecy and the final chapters of the Book of Revelation, for it is exactly tile New Creation, the New Jerusalem, the Heavenly City, the Kingdom of God, the Day of the Lord, the Marriage Feast of the Lamb with his Bride which is celebrated and realized and experienced in the Holy Spirit on the Holy Night of Easter in the Orthodox Church.

— Fr. Thomas Hopko, The Orthodox Faith (read more)

The Icon of the Feast

In the icon of the Resurrection pictured above, the Lord's triumph over death is vividly celebrated. Christ is shown rising out of the depths of Hades, whose smashed gates he stands upon. He is pulling Adam and Eve out of their tombs, for, as Saint John Chrysostom (+407) famously wrote, "not one of the dead remains in the grave." The kings, prophets, and righteous men and women of the Old Testament stand around Christ, raising their hands in awe and worship.

Paschaltide 2018

  • April 8 · Great and Holy Pascha
  • April 15 · Renewal Sunday (Antipascha)
  • April 22 · Sunday of the Myrrhbearers
  • April 29 · Sunday of the Paralyzed Man
  • May 2 · Mid-Pentecost
  • May 6 · Sunday of the Samaritan Woman
  • May 13 · Sunday of the Blind Man
  • May 16 · Leavetaking of Pascha
  • May 17 · Ascension of Our Lord
  • May 20 · Sunday of the Council of Nicaea
  • May 27 · Sunday of Pentecost
  • June 3 · Sunday of All Saints

Paschal Message of Metropolitan Joseph

Metropolitan Joseph of New York

Lo through the Cross has joy come into all of the world. Ever blessing the Lord, let us sing His Resurrection. For by enduring the Cross for us, He has destroyed death by death.


Having traversed the time of the Great Fast with fasting and repentance, and having witnessed the Passion and Burial of our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, with fear and awe, we now enter in the radiant joy of the Resurrection!

At a time when humanity appears to be throwing itself into ever more darkness, we rejoice in the fact that Christ destroyed death by the very means of death. In other words, Our Lord has shown Himself to be the faithful Bridegroom who can take our very means of rebellion and transform them into Life-giving means of communion.

Let us with grateful hearts embrace the mystery of the Life and Light pouring forth from the Empty Tomb and, together, take up the evangelical labor of proclaiming to the world that the Lord is indeed risen and will indeed transform our sorrows into joy!

Yours in the Risen Lord,

Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America

The Victory of the Cross

Icon of the Cross

The Place of the Skull has become Paradise.

The sword of flame no longer guards the gate of Eden,
for a strange bond came upon it: the wood of the Cross.
The sting of Death and the victory of Hell were nailed to it.
But you appeared, my Saviour, crying to those in Hell:
Be brought back again to Paradise.

Nailed to the form of the Cross
as truly a ransom for many,
you redeemed us, Christ our God,
for by your precious blood in love for mankind
you snatched our souls from death.
You brought us back with you again to Paradise.

All things in heaven and earth rightly rejoice with Adam,
because he has been called again to Paradise.

— St. Romanos the Melodist (+556 AD)